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COMMENTARY: A new doctrine

Trump wastes no time laying out a protectionist agenda at inauguration

By: Patrick Duffy
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Photo: Jim Larkin/Shutterstock
   As the final words of the presidential oath left the lips of the United States' 45th president, the skies over Washington, D.C. gave way to a light rain.
   Perhaps the weather was fitting. President Trump would go on to paint a picture of a nation in crisis, that had been let down by his predecessors - both in the Oval Office and on both sides of the aisles in Congress. Dystopian references to “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation…” were utilized to set the scene for the immediacy of an about-face in America’s relationship with the world and the nation’s government with its citizens.
   The President’s speech was scathing in its assessment of Washington’s ability to bring prosperity to the “struggling families all across our land, and was accompanied by pledges to immediately halt what he described as “carnage." He railed against the shuttering of factories and the destruction of middle class wealth that was “redistributed all across the world.
   Trump's speech quickly moved towards a new doctrine that would be “heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power." America first. Trump made it clear that this would be accomplished through adherence to “two simple rules: buy American and hire American.
   This assessment laid a foundation for the nationalistic and protectionist policies which were simultaneously released to the public with the unveiling of a brand new WhiteHouse.gov website. Among the issues singled out in the website were “Bringing Back Jobs and Growth” and “Trade Deals Working For All Americans.”
   The new administration’s now public stance is for “a bold plan to create 25 million new American jobs in the next decade and return to 4 percent annual economic growth.” It describes tax reform “to help American workers and businesses keep more of their hard-earned dollars” and an Executive Office that “knows how important it is to get Washington out of the way of America’s small businesses, entrepreneurs, and workers.” Further pledges were made on “renegotiating existing trade deals, and taking a tough stance on futures ones,” with the threatened ammunition of consequences for “countries engaging in illegal or unfair trade practices that hurt American workers."
   The site’s section on trade puts foreign trading partners and the operators of multinational corporations on notice. TPP is finished. It’s now in official writing calling for the “withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and that “President Trump is committed to renegotiating NAFTA.” There is a populist lens to these official words, claiming that he “will ensure that on his watch, trade policies will be implemented by and for the people, and will put America first.”
   The next 100 days may yield a better understanding of the impacts of nationalistic and protectionist doctrine on global interconnectedness, and the ramifications on interdependent value chains driving cross-border commerce.